Abuja — The Federal Government began disbursement of N5, 000 to one million indigent Nigerians in the country yesterday.
Beneficiaries of the money are from the Conditional Cash Transfers Scheme, who were paid N20,000 each covering four months.
The action, according to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Faroug, is in line with recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately to beneficiaries.
Disbursing the money at Kwali Local Government Council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to over 100 beneficiaries, the minister said: "The exercise commenced about five years ago and it is geared towards supporting the poor and vulnerable households of our society.
"We give them monthly stipends of N5000 and now that we have these restrictions, Mr. President has directed that we give them two months advance payment and we are here today to carry out that directive of paying the two months advance payment.
"We have over a million people across the country. For the FCT and this particular area council, we are giving about 5, 000 households in this area."
Describing the process leading to identification of beneficiaries as rigorous, she said: "It is a very long process. People like religious and community leaders and different groups all came together to identify with poorest and vulnerable households in their communities."
Explaining how the beneficiaries were selected, the minister said they were captured in the scheme's register at inception.
She said contrary to claims in some quarters, the beneficiaries were not just selected now.
Mrs Farouq, who spoke to Vanguard through her Special Adviser on Media,Salihu Danbatta, upon enquiry from the latter on how they arrived at the beneficiaries, insisted that the beneficiaries were selected long ago.
She said: "You know this scheme did not just start today. It started a long time ago and the names of those selected to benefit have been in the register.
"So when the President directed payment for four months, from January to April, be made to beneficiaries, we went into the register to know those already captured and who are to benefit."
Told that there were speculations that the beneficiaries of the money were members of a particular political party, Mrs Farouq said: "It is not true, you can confirm from the beneficiaries."